A World in chaos, and I’m loving it!

Its been a tumultuous week, both in my personal life, as well as globally.

Let’s see, the Arab Spring has now made its way to Turkey, and the past three weeks have been marked by massive protests. And just like any massive protests, the government is fighting back with force. The latest in riot police brutalities in Istanbul involve the use of a water canon (read about it here).

V mask

Fashion Statement and Political Statement all in one!

Then there is Brazil. Millions upon millions took to the streets in various cities throughout the very large country to protest the widespread corruption that the media has been uncovering of late. A ten cent hike in public transit, which sparked a small protest, that ended violently, was all it took to rattle an entire country. (read more about it, and watch some videos here).

These aren’t two separate cases. These may be two separate countries with very different issues, but the main problem, the core of all these protests, is a very global problem. People are slowly starting to wake up and realize that they have NO POWER, NO CONTROL over their own lives. Democracy is a joke, and the only people benefiting the policies that run the country are the powerfully rich and elite.

Istanbul supports Brazil

Turkish Protesters supporting Brazil. Sign reads: “Resist, Brazil, For we are together in this fight!”

Its not that different here in Canada. We are currently investigating a huge case in the cancellation of gas plant contracts that cost our province $585 million in tax payer revenue. And just this week, the same provincial government decided to short fall the city of Toronto, cancelling about $150 million dollars over 3 years that the city was counting on for its budget. This means a cut in services, and possibly increases in taxes. Seems our politicians screw up, shred and delete the evidence, then make the people pay.

So, here’s my question: Where are our protesters? Where is our movement of the people? Where are the angry poverty stricken people who are fed up of carrying the brunt of these issues on their own backs?

I was talking to someone just yesterday about all this, and I told him: “sometimes I feel completely surrounded by blithering idiots that don’t care. Like I’m alone in a sea of stupidity and immorality.”
I saw the light bulb go on in his brain before he even said “I know exactly how you feel, I feel that way too!”

Image

…Blackittycat27 is not impressed!

I am JEALOUS of Brazil and Turkey, at how there are enough people who are willing to come together and stand up for what’s right, to actually SPEAK UP! I don’t know what’s gotten into North Americans, why we are so numb, heartless, why we are so often in denial, and how we create a culture where to speak up against something is FROWNED upon.

Let me give a personal example, of something that has happened to me this very week. I have someone in my extended family who has suffered 30 plus years in a verbally and psychologically abusive marriage with an alcoholic. A week ago, after years of leaving the husband and coming back to him repeatidly in hopes that they could reconcile their differences for their own children and grandchildren’s sake, she finally realized that her husband would not change. She made the hardest decision one could make, and also the bravest. She packed her bags, and left her husband.

She has three grown children, two of which are married with children of their own, and are fully aware of the abuse she has lived through, and the various mental illnesses she has developed as a consequence. Yet each and every one of them turned their backs on their own mother, refusing to help her, support her, and even talked rudely to her.

It blew my mind. I messaged the eldest son, reprimanding him of his rude behavior in a time when his own mother was at her most vulnerable. I was attacked for it, called names for it, and told to mind my own business and keep my mouth shut.

Yet, isn’t this the EXACT reaction, regardless of the topic, that people who speak  the truth and stand up against what they believe is wrong, get? We live in a society that demonizes whistle blowers. They want us to “mind our own business.” But that is because they don’t want us exposing their dirty laundry, or criticizing them for their crimes, or immoral behavior.  They want to get away with it.

AND WE LET THEM, ALL THE TIME, EVERYDAY.

Journalism is suppose to be about exposing the truth, but how can we expose the truth if our journalists are paid by the giant media conglomerates? The same ones with top CEOs and Execs who are behind all the corruption?

People are afraid to speak up. People are immovably convinced that “speaking up” won’t do anything, won’t create change. They don’t even believe that change is possible, and be that the case, just don’t say anything, don’t stir the pot. How did we become a society of hopeless cowards?

What I admire most about Brazil and Turkey right now, is they have two things we don’t: they have a sense of community and togetherness, and they have HOPE.

Image

Now THAT is HOPE!

Destroying the World one stigma at a time

In a previous blog I talked about words, words that destroy, and words that have the power to fight back.

Today's word brought to you by: A Majority of Society

Today’s word brought to you by: A Majority of Society

Today I want to talk about one particular word:  Stigma. Good Old Webster defines Stigma as “a mark of shame or discredit”. A Mark of Shame. I think about all the different Marks of Shame in the world. All the marks placed on vulnerable people by others who are misinformed, ignorant and full of judgement. I think the definition of stigma is a bit misleading, because in my view, in order to feel shame, you have to do something to feel shameful about. However, when I think of Stigmas, I think about judgements made on people to make them feel shameful of things at which they have no fault. Let’s list them, shall we?

POVERTY

stigma, poverty

Resumes and Cover Letters just don’t work anymore

Do you know why poverty exists? Why, in  countries where there is an abundance of resources, money, and food, people go hungry or lack the basic necessities of life? Why the answer is actually quite simple. Poor people exist because they are lazy and don’t want to work. They choose to live on the streets because it beats the responsibility of having to pay rent or act like an adult. And drugs. They are drug addicts and therefore bad, so all the suffering they endure is self inflicted. Poor people are dirty, uneducated, and potentially criminal. They made all the wrong choices in life and are now paying the consequences.

THOSE ON SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

Yes, because that's the only thing my tax money pays for.

Yes, because that’s the only thing my tax money pays for.

Since we are the topic of poverty, lets talk about those lazy leeches that eat up all our taxes. Us hard working folk get taxed on all sorts of things because the government wants to punish us for being upstanding citizens. Then, they give that money to people who don’t deserve it, the poor. How preposterous! Its like we are giving out incentives to be lazy. Its no surprise that welfare recipients are mostly immigrants who move to Canada to eat up our money, that’s when they aren’t taking our jobs. And Black people. And single mothers who breed like rabbits just to watch their child benefits increase. And welfare checks are just supplements to their real income, which comes from selling drugs or committing fraud.

Those on welfare are rude, ignorant, lazy, and lack decent morals. The women are promiscuous, the men irresponsible and selfish. Those welfare bums, they have it so easy compared to us hard working folk.

Yup, welfare checks are big enough that you can live in luxury

Yup, welfare checks are big enough that you can live in luxury

AFRICAN AMERICAN

Look at those guys. Just look at them.

S'up N****s! YOLO!!!

S’up N****s! YOLO!!!

The whole “racism” thing is a dead beaten horse. Decades after the civil rights movement, they finally have all the same rights and privileges just like the rest of us, and what do they do? They continue to give themselves a bad name, is what. They dress like hoodlums, join gangs, provoke everyone who dares to even glance at them, then, when it’s convenient, they throw you the damn race card. And they are just as racist if not more than white people, calling us “white trash”. Just look at the numbers of black people in our prisons, they just can’t seem to get out of trouble! And the women are just as bad, welfare queens, the lot of them. Popping out babies just to increase their child care benefits, and then using the money to buy expensive clothes and flashy phones instead of groceries for their children. They smoke weed, eat junk food, and live in the “ghetto”, and they use the music industry and hip-hop music to glamorize the life style. Yet what do they contribute to society? Nothing.

Get Yours Now!

Get Yours Now!

Oh, but not all black people. Some black people are pretty decent, its just the rest of em “ghetto blacks” that give good upstanding black people a bad name.

WHITE TRASH

"I'm related to all these women, and married to half of them!"

“I’m related to all these women, and married to half of them!”

Are you white and live under the poverty level? Have a poor sense of fashion? Live in a trailer park, government housing, or a run down apartment/house? Have bad teeth? On social assistance? Like beer and watching sports, and collecting guns? Have bad teeth? Wear plaid, dirty t-shirts and jeans with a baseball cap? Or mini skirts, revealing tops, too much eye make up and hair rollers if you are a woman? Overweight and smoke 3 packs a day? Speak with a rural accent?  Get the cops called on you every week due to domestic disturbances? Eat junk food and watch too much reality TV? Bad teeth?  Well, if you are ANY of those things, then you are ALL of those things! Also, you are white trash!

OBESITY

T-Shirts, and thermoses, and ties, and aprons, and beach signs, and baseball caps and other memorabilia can't all be wrong!

T-Shirts, and thermoses, and ties, and aprons, and beach signs, and baseball caps and other memorabilia can’t all be wrong!

Heck, even doctors hate fatties! They are lazy, hate exercising and eating healthy, and are completely at fault for the way they look. They aren’t even really people, just blobs of fat. And lets not mention ugly. And if you are ugly, you are undeserving of love. So go ahead, make fun of them. You’re actually doing them a favor, because causing them emotional trauma is the best possible way to motivate them to change themselves into healthier people. Otherwise, they’d live in their parents basement eating cake and cheetos doing nothing more than playing video games or surfing the net for the rest of their lives. Besides, isn’t it their own fault for being fat?And they should loose weight. Like, right now. Otherwise they will never be accepted or loved by society. Because, like killing, stealing, committing adultery, and punching babies, being fat is WRONG! The only reason its not one of the ten commandments is that Moses lived in the desert, and fat people don’t live in the desert.

fat ppl poster

THE GAYS

Grrr! I'm a wild fiesty gay and I'm coming for you!

Grrr! I’m a wild feisty gay and I’m coming for you!

Ah, Bruno, the perfect embodiment of anyone homosexual: Flamboyant, full of drama, effeminate, sexually perverse, speaks with a lisp, obsessed with fashion, and extremely high maintenance.

I mean, all the immorality that defaces most religious beliefs put aside, there are many reasons to hate the LGBTQ community. Lesbians are just glorified man haters who themselves want to be men and dress like them. Bisexuals are just so promiscuous that they want to sleep with everyone of both sexes. Trannies are weird, gross, mentally ill and want to use the wrong bathrooms as a way of intimidating and attacking other users. In fact, homosexuals all have mental illnesses, are sexual predators, and want to convert  your children onto their side! Watch out, they are coming for you too!

MENTAL ILLNESS

mental illness stigma

Oh, hello there, what’s that? You have a mental illness?

Oh. Well, nice to see you, I gotta go. Hope you feel better… and stuff. You know, just think positive. Or, try harder to get better. What’s that? It doesn’t work that way? Well, are you sure you have a mental illness, I mean, maybe it’s all in your head, and you just THINK you have a mental illness. I mean its all the rage these days, seems everyone thinks they have a mental illness. And those pharmaceutical companies are all corrupt, and just want to sell drugs, so even your doctor could miss-diagnosed you.

Have you tried a meditation class, or yoga? I heard from the sister of a friend’s mother’s cousin that it totally worked for them! Are you sure you are trying everything? Oh, well, like I said, I gotta go. I’m in a rush you see. Hope I didn’t upset you or anything. Well, if you need anything, just give me a call. Wish I could chat now, but, you know life, I’m actually busy and have so much to do! Take care! (Run away, run away now before they do something crazy, or weird, or awkward!)

IMMIGRANTS

EVIL!!!!

EVIL!!!!

The above says it all. Oh, also, TERRORISTS!

CONCLUSION…

If you are angry, if after reading this you are riled up, wanting to punch me in the face…GOOD.

If not, go back to your upbringing and demand some morals, because you got cheated.

Just an FYI, this was one of the hardest posts I’ve written, not just because I had to rewrite more than half of it when WordPress lost a day of my writing, but also because I had to channel some really dark and nasty but realistic sentiment that I have personally witnessed or encountered on many occasions. Sentiments that I wish did not exist. Sentiments I know to be the mentality behind many of the barriers many of these people face to improve their lives or simply to survive, or be happy.

My hope is that I can challenge these stigmas. I want to provoke people, and want to make people think about these common misconceptions.  And I want to teach people to be more aware of these mentalities, educate them in why they are wrong, and that its NOT OKAY to say or think any of these things.

Because as harmless as a joke, or assumption, or a thought may appear to be, they DO destroy lives, and destroy them continuously everyday.

This entry was posted on June 3, 2013. 4 Comments

Abercrombie & Fitch: Establishing the brand of Douchebag!

Pictured above: Class "A" Douchebag

Pictured above: Class “A” Douchebag

A bombshell in the fashion world this week, business insider and author Robin Lewis told the world what the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch looks for his his customers: “Looks”.

For those who haven’t read or heard about it on the news, click here.

The Micheal Jeffries exact quote that has caught a lot of attention: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

“Look at how uncool she is. She is so NOT Abercrombie!”

When I first read that, my first thought was: “Wow, are there really 68 year olds still stuck in High School when a majority of people gladly left and moved on ages ago? I know a lot of “uncool” kids who have grown up to be amazing, interesting, successful members of society who say getting out of High School was the best thing that could have every happened to them. It meant that they began to matter as human beings, valued for what they had to offer and not what they looked like. I guess in some places, say Abercrombie & Fitch stores, that outdated mentality still exists.

“And stay in there until you learn that you are not worthy of wearing Abercrombie & Fitch! Stay out of that store!”

My elementary school experience was a lot like that, and I was part of the 80% “uncool” kids, bullied and tossed aside . I’m fairly lucky, by High School, most of my peers were getting over that mentality. I was finally accepted, and we all spent more time having fun all together over sitting around judging others or trying to label some as better than others.

I have also been overweight my whole life, and I’m quite used to walking through shopping malls and passing by all the stores going: “Nope. Not that one. Not that one either. No. Not a chance!” Those are all the stores that don’t carry my size. I’m not “good” enough to shop at most stores, and those stores do not want to be seen with “fat” shoppers in them anyways. It used to make me angry, really angry. Now I just walk past those stores with the realization that they don’t deserve my money. I’ll spend it where I’m valued for my unique sense of beauty, and we’re I’m accepted.

Who needs Abercrombie & Fitch when H&M can make me look this Fab!

Who needs Abercrombie & Fitch when H&M can make me look this Fab!

Of course this story really resonated with me. And it resonated with a lot of people. It seems open letters to Mike Jefferies is the new trending topic of the Internet. I love that people are doing these, in fact, here are some examples:

Sizing Up Abercrombie — A Letter to Mike Jeffries by Andrea Neusner

A Letter to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries by Sheila Moeschen

Rebuttal to Abercrombie’s Jeffries From a Fat “Not so Cool Kid.” by Justin Nutt

Here is one written by a friend of a friend of mine. She posted it on Facebook and I even shared it on my wall, as I was really touched by it.

Abercrombie and Fitch– size: uncool

Actually Mr Michael Jefferies, I must tell you, you are wrong. Some of the most beautiful people I know wouldn’t fit in your clothes. I wasted years of my life, nearly losing my life entirely, to ensure I could be one of the “cool” kids. Like you, the physical was so important to me because it had been what set me apart from everyone else. The “cool” kids harassed me, broke me down, ostracized me, made me hate myself. Yet I still longed to be like them because I felt it was the only way to make myself a worthy person again. Yet when I finally succeeded, I found myself so unhappy, more depressed than I’d ever been. I had won the battle to be thin like the “cool” kids. But I had lost my health, happiness, respect for myself, and had implanted in my mind a battle for control over my body that still continues even today. I fought again, this time, and for the first time, I fought for my health and for me. I realized for myself what I’d always applied to other people: beauty lies within. The coolest people I know, yes some are quite slender. But some are not. And my life would be missing someone important if any of those people were not there. Yes that includes those who you deem to be “uncool”. You see, to me they are all gorgeous and cool, and have so much to offer in the world. They are amazing people. I don’t measure those closest to me in terms of their size. That doesn’t matter. A person’s beauty comes from within and what they bring to the world. It is clear to me that your world must be missing a lot of true beauty, if you’re setting a size limit on anyone who you let into your life. So to be honest, I pity you. The concern for external beauty is just a cloud blocking the light that the “uncool” have to offer. I hope one day you realize that you have an amazingly successful business, that would not falter if you opened the doors to everyone; if you embraced beauty in all sizes, and recognized the beauty inside as well as what’s on the outside; and seeing that external beauty extends through all body sizes and is not limited to those with a small waistline. I’m sure many people would be proud of you if you chose to market your business to everyone, for it would mark a change in your attitude and a clear growth as a person. Until then, I just hope you manage to find peace in the life your leading, because I know by only letting certain “sizes” in, you’re losing a lot of happiness other “sized” people could bring you. The uncool are cooler than you may think, trust me. The measurement of a clothing size does not measure the value of a person. I can fit into your clothes now, but once upon a time I couldn’t. But I can promise you that I was just as good a person then, with a lot to offer to the world, as I am now. The ability to fit into your brand doesn’t define my ability to make an impact on the world and be “cool” to those around me– and it never will. Best of luck to you.

Healey Gardiner”

So, here is what most astounds me, in a world where Fashion labels are driven by their brand, what sort of Brand is Mike Jeffries building for his company?

Not only are a majority of people sizes 14 and up, but I’m pretty sure a majority of people have been bullied by some version of “the cool kids”. Or lost someone to suicide, or seen their child slowly die of an eating disorder. When I hear the phrase “The cool kids”, I cringe. I don’t think its wise to have that level of negativity attached to your brand, no matter how much you profit from the exclusivity of it.

To me, Abercrombie and Fitch symbolizes those that are mean, arrogant, materialistic, narcissistic, inconsiderate, selfish, self absorbed and uncaring. And I have no respect for the brand, and very little to those that buy it.

Abercrombie, because if you don't look like us, then you don't matter!

Abercrombie, because if you don’t look like us, then you don’t matter!

I’ll take sticks and stones anyday…

Sticks and stones may brake bones, but words…

Contrary to popular belief, words do hurt, and a lot.  I’m not even talking about bullying solely, which is a very touchy topic these days. Just look at the case of Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia, where the online bullying and distribution of a photo of her being gang raped drove the 17 year old to take her own life.

Pictured: Rehteah Parsons, a victim of words

The incident propelled millions to protest and share her story. How can things escalate to the point when a whole entire school turns an incident of rape into a reason to bully and harass someone so diligently to the point that the girl had to move TOWNS in order to go to a different school? And thanks to Facebook and the internet, it followed her there. How did not a single person step up to defend her? Why wasn’t something done sooner to stop the harassment?

To me, someone who also grew up experiencing harassment from bullies throughout elementary school, I understand how words can cut.

But I also know they do more than cut. They shape thoughts and opinions, they inspire attitudes and mentalities, they sway individuals and move masses. In turn, you can use words to destroy lives, damage souls and spread lies that cause corruption and evil.

The power of words is a scary thing. Because misusing them is so easy.

I just reblogged a post by Rebecca Fraser-Thill of her advice to her students upon graduating, which was this:

Do No Harm

It's not about listening to the Angel, but successfully ignoring the Devil too

It’s not about listening to the Angel, but successfully ignoring the Devil too

She states that it’s one thing to tell her graduates to go out into the world and do good, but that advice is lacking. To truly create a brighter world, attempting to avoid harm on others is the true challenge, but a more beneficial one. I think about her advice when I ponder Rehteah’s bullying dilemma. All those people who chose to feed on the words of her bullies, and even those who stood silent and did nothing, caused harm. It took away a girls life.

See, that’s how Stigma spreads. Words. And I could apply that theory to any social stigma. In fact, I plan to do just that.

I have always been a writer deep down. Maybe not a fully realized writer, because I haven’t written enough to merit the title, but a writer non-the-less. And as a writer, I love WORDS.

I love words because even though they are powerful enough to destroy lives, in turn, they also have the power to change the world for the better too.

I look at all the evil and injustice in the world, how words are being used to do harm, and realize that you can fight fire with fire. I want to fight words with words.

the_pen_is_mightier_than_the_sword_by_moriarteas-d4z4hmp

As they say…

Let’s talk about poverty in a language most people understand: MONEY

Might as well place our money here...

Might as well place our money here…

I was reading the newspaper at work today, and low and behold, there was this article:

Poverty costs us billions: Fiorito

It was about the belief of money manager Marc Hamel that poverty is costing us Ontarians billions in tax payer money. Some interesting quotes of his are:

“Someone living in the lowest quintile of income earners will use the health-care system 50 per cent more than the average person. This is as a result of higher stress, poor nutrition, substandard housing and an unstable social environment.”

That costs us billions in extra health care spending, what Hamel calculates is $3 Billion.

Also:

“If we were able to increase the income and participation of the lowest quintile of income earners, and raise their incomes to the second quintile, the benefit to the Ontario economy would be over $16 billion a year.”

$16 billion!!! That’s how much revenue we loose out on just be ignoring poverty.

And to total cost of poverty in general?

“In total, poverty costs the residents of Ontario a staggering $32 billion to $38 billion a year — the equivalent of over 5 per cent of provincial GDP.”

That’s right, solving some of Ontario’s economic hardships means tackling an issue that has repeatedly been ignored for years: POVERTY.

It’s not just the middle class that needs boosting, we need to invest in those who are at the bottom, because there is way more untapped potential there. It’s actually even financially more responsible to do so.

Anyway, this article is definitely a good read, check it out!

Getting a “Job”: Now harder than being a freelance artist

I just finished reading a blog post, a rant more like it, about how some artists should go GET A JOB.

I felt the desire to comment on it, since based on my own experience, he couldn’t be more wrong. He starts by saying: “GET A JOB. A stable one. 9-to-5. With health insurance and a 401k. GET IT NOW.”  He directs this at artists of my  generation, in their 20’s and 30’s. He says:

“Stop angsting over whether your Art or your Muse will survive Selling Out. Stop saying that your delicate artistic expressiveness can’t cope with an office job. Stop being allergic to money and then wondering why you can’t make rent and your lights are always being turned off.”

The first part made me laugh. A stable 9-5 job with a pension? Why, these days finding one of those sounds just as elusive as scoring a record deal, or successfully selling out your paintings at an art Gallery. It takes what feels like years to score one of those, and as time passes on, the fewer of those jobs will exist. William Bridges predicted the slow decline and extinction of the “job” back when he published his book “Job Shift” in 1992. The ironic thing is that slowly, with the dwindling down of 9-5 jobs, it’s the creative class that is predicted to rise to the top. Yeah, that’s right, those same artists the author of the blog is lecturing at. And here’s why:

Artists already have a lot of the skills necessary to survive in the current job market. Its the same skills that even those handing out the elusive and very much coveted 9-5 jobs are looking for. They are resourceful, quick to adapt to changing environment, able to think outside the box, are used to project based assignments, have the self awareness and ability to self market themselves, and the passion and creativity to get the job done. When I see a “starving artist”, I see someone who understands what the world is really like today, for most people, artists or not. And by the way, most “starving artists” I know do have jobs. Sure, part time, but guess what, most people looking for full time work also have part time jobs. Or temporary contract jobs. Or full time positions with no benefits or pensions. As I’ve mentioned before, in my city alone, half of all workers have some form of precarious employment. That’s just the nature of employment in general. Starving artists are in the exact same scenario as other workers. Except, starving artists are more equipped to deal with it and probably more motivated to do so. They don’t fear the soul sucking “desk job”. They realize that no matter what field of employment you’re in, only the best people get the job, or make the sale. And to be on top, you have to really love what you do.

Yes, we now live in a time where “loving what you do” is not just a blessing, but the best way to survive in such a competitive economy.

I also want to provide an example of how the “artists” who give up looking for the stability of a 9-5 knowing full well that it’s just a myth, how they actually not only survive, but persevere.

My friend Sonia makes jewelry and accessories. It was her way of staying creative after giving up her dream of going into fashion when she decided to take environmental studies in University instead. She wanted to set her parents at ease that she would be able to get a nice cushy 9-5 when finishing her Degree. Well, she finishes her Degree this year and has already told me that selling her line of jewelry has proved to be so successful, that instead of looking for a job in her field of study, she plans to commit to her businesses full time. While working part time at Ikea, taking on a full time study load, she has built herself two very successful jewelry brands that she sells online, at specialty boutiques, and even sells overseas. She’s even been featured in a few magazines and fashion shows. She tells me there is no point looking for a job, she’s making more than enough on her business alone. And I’m a huge fan of her brands COVEN and Quaintrella

If I saw a starving artist, the last thing I would tell them to do is to “Get a Job”. That’s a dead end. The only people I’d recommend that to is someone who wants to get a 9-5 job since they’ll take years to find one anyway. What I would tell a starving artist is this: forget getting a record deal, or living off your work, that’s unrealistic. Find a way to make money. Be creative, look around you. Look for what is needed in the world around you. Learn to match your skills and what you have to offer to that need. Then learn to sell that idea or make it a reality. Learn to sell yourself and your skills. And always do something that you will love and be passionate about, because there is no better way to guarantee your quality.

Me as a Number

Here is my own personal experience just to give a realistic perspective on some numbers:

Statistics say that the average person will hold 7 jobs in their lifetime. I am 28 years old, and I’ve had 13 different jobs since I started working at the age of 17. Of all those jobs, only one of them was full time, and had benefits. Of those 13 jobs, I got laid off twice. Another of those jobs was seasonal. I left 2 other part time jobs because the weekly hours reduced by so much that I couldn’t afford to keep working there. And I couldn’t get a second job because even though I wasn’t getting the hours, I was required under contract to be available during evenings and weekends, and couldn’t commit those days elsewhere. I have never earned more than $14 an hour, or worked somewhere for longer than two years. I was even promoted to a supervisory role once, only to be demoted along with my other newly promoted team mates due to “company changes in supervisory roles”.

I went to college twice, and earned a diploma in Career and Work Counselling. And now I’m being turned away from jobs in my field because no one wants to create entry level positions. They want me to spend more money I don’t have on more courses, and some positions want me to have a drivers license and a car. Or a luxuriously expensive university degree. I’m also expected to work as an intern for free to gain experience.

I just started my 13th job. It’s part time and only 26 hours a week. No benefits. And it’s front reception work. But, at least it’s for a non profit organization, which was what I wanted, and I’m loving it there so far. So, despite my turbulent 20’s, I have to say I still feel grateful.

However, I’m 28 years old, with 11 years of work experience, an impressive array of skills and aptitudes, yet in terms of employment, I haven’t progressed much at all. I’ve done all the right things: I’m hard working, reliable, efficient, I’ve taken risks, educated myself; Sure I’ve made mistakes but I’ve grown from them.I have an amazing resume (so I’ve been told) and I interview quite well (so I’ve also been told), and everyone I have worked for has so many great things to say about me. I have great potential, they say. Which begs the question, why can’t I find financial stability after struggling for over a decade to find it?

Truth is, I’m not alone.

The national average for unemployment sits around the 7% mark. However, youth unemployment, ages 16-25, it sits around the 14%. They are also statistically expected to have up to 20 different occupations by the time they retire (however even I think that number is too low). I’m only a few years older, but the situation isn’t far from my own.

I’ve read all the articles, watched documentaries and read countless books on the topic of our lost generation. Heck, I even spent whole courses at school immersed in the social changes that caused this tremendous shift in the labour market. And here I sit, an example.

According to the report on a collaborative study conducted by McMaster University, PEPSO and United Way entitled “It’s More than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Well-being”, this is called “precarious employment”, that is, employment that isn’t both permanent or full time. In includes part time work, contract work, work with no pensions or health benefits. Seasonal work or on call positions. Unstable work that offers little to no security or compensation.

And of the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Stoney Creek workforce, a whopping 50% of us have precarious employment. That means half of the working population are in my exact predicament, in constant worry about how we’ll make ends meat, unsure of our futures, frustrated with the mounting pressures placed on us by society. No wonder Depression, anxiety, and bipolar mood disorders are on the rise. 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at least at some point in their lives.

So, yes, like most of my generation, I feel trapped. I also feel angry because I know it was the corporate greed of the generations before me that caused this, and it was our governments that allowed it, and continue to allow it.

For now, I concentrate on being grateful for what I do have. And a part of me is hopeful that even though my generation is facing tough times ahead, we’ll deal with it, and overcome our obstacles. Maybe this is the generation that will learn to live with less.

I can be a negative pessimist at times, but deep at my core I have faith.

Maybe some good will come out of all of this.